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Florida Chamber: Medicaid Requires Repair not Expansion

March 10, 2013 - 7:00pm

On the heels of a vote Monday by a Senate select committee not to expand Medicaid under the federal health-care law, the Florida Chamber of Commerce stepped forward in support of alternatives to fix the system.

The business lobby group believes the keyword should be repair rather than expand. With the House and Senate select committees on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act now voting against the expansion, the Florida Chamber asserts this is the time to fix a broken system through cost savings and solutions to make the state more competitive.

Let me be clear, if its a take Washingtons mandate or nothing question, the Florida Chamber stands in opposition to Washingtons version of a one-size-fits-all Medicaid expansion, said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber. While we are against what Washington passed in its current form, we are for a flexible Florida solution.

The Florida Chamber has outlined a set of 11 prerequisites the group feels are conditional for accepting any additional federal dollars:

1.Ensuring Floridas Medicaid expenses do not exceed the current 32 percent of Floridas budget, and over the long-term lower the percentage.

2.Conducting an annual performance review to measure quality of care, cost containment, and efficiency.

3.Lowering costs by implementing medical liability reform.

4.Increasing medical residency programs to encourage more physicians to practice in Florida.

5.Including pre-med, nursing and medical technician training degree incentives as part of STEM educational programs.

6.Implementing of Floridas Medicaid HMO waiver, which was approved in late February.

7.Closing the drug repackaging loophole that is artificially inflating the cost of medical care in workers compensation claims.

8.Developing wellness programs that reduce the cost of care through healthier living.

9.Revisiting the expansion one year after the expiration of 100 percent funding for sunset if metrics are not met.

10.Lowering costs by expanding fraud and abuse prevention measures.

11.Encouraging the Florida Legislature to consider every viable alternative to move new Medicaid recipients into private insurance.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of the Senate committee, said Monday he prefers to pursue a voucher-like alternative, which would allow coverage through private insurers.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, indicated Monday that he is also open to exploring other options that, he says, are not Washingtons inflexible approach and that will not endanger future funding for our schools public safety and protection of our beaches and springs.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott, who supports Medicaid expansion, said he is "confident that the Legislature will do the right thing and find a way to protect taxpayers and the uninsured in our state while the new health care law provides 100 percent federal funding."

Anne Smith writes special to Sunshine State News.

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